Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Scoring four times in a 15-minute span in the first half, the MacEwan Griffins women's soccer team erased bad memories of their loss in Calgary last weekend with a 4-1 rout of the visiting UBC-Okanagan Heat on Friday night at Clarke Stadium.
They also captured a measure of vindication, beating a team that had bested them on the scoreboard during the opening weekend of the Canada West season.
"Obviously, we didn't like how we played in the Calgary game and we knew that's not the team we are," said Griffins forward Salma Kamel of a 4-0 loss to the Dinos that hurt their efforts to land a home playoff game. "We don't normally concede that many goals, we're actually the team that scores those goals, so I'm glad we came out and showed that. It was good to see."
Offensively, it was the Griffins' best half of the season as they came at the Heat in waves.
Griffins rookie Maya Morrell nearly opened the scoring in the first minute when she plucked the ball away from UBCO keeper Emma Terrillon at the top of the box but slipped before hitting a yawning cage.
But it wouldn't take long for the Griffins to get on the board. In the 23rd minute, Kamel charged into the area and dished a pass to a wide-open Kaylin Hermanutz for a tap-in.
UBCO responded five minutes later as Ally Ferronato ran in on a partial break from the left side and sent a short-side blast past MacEwan's Emily Burns.
"She crushed one short side that caught us all off guard," said Griffins head coach Dean Cordeiro. "That's a moment in the game where, if you dwell on it, it can really have its impact.
"For us, within a minute, we had responded. We just turned the page and I think that really, really set the tone. The fight back, the response after the goal was the TSN turning point for me."
Indeed, a key nail in the Heat's coffin was the fact MacEwan regained the lead just over a minute after losing it. Morrell took a pass from Kamel and ripped a shot that skipped through Terrillon in the 28th minute.
"It was a bit of a lack of concentration," said UBCO Heat head coach Craig Smith. "They were still switched on for the goal.
"I was impressed with MacEwan. They've improved a lot. They're right up there with the best teams we've played all year, although they got a couple of goals that we shouldn't (have allowed)."
When a 32nd-minute scramble ensued after a corner kick, Samantha Gouveia played the ball back to Raeghan McCarthy, who nuked a left-footed 20-yard past a defender, bending it expertly inside the far right post.
Sarah Riddle then put a fourth goal into the net off a high-arcing shot from 35 yards away that went over Terrillon's head.
"Credit the girls. We were dialed in," said Cordeiro. "I knew we'd be ready to go today. Nobody was happy about how last Sunday went. We played against a UBCO team that Craig's done a tremendous job with. We lost to them earlier in the season and it left a bad taste in everybody's mouth as well.
"We were that team champing at the bit to get the job done today. Scoring four goals in 15 minutes was impressive. We used the term last week, an eye-opener, to show the girls what we're capable of when we're on."
What they're capable of is the best record the program has had since joining Canada West in 2014 as the win pushed their record to 9-3-1.
"We won eight games a couple of times and we had one seven-win season, so it's been a great start of our young careers, if you will, at the Canada West level," said Cordeiro. "It's one more game and hopefully we can get to 10.
"It's exciting, but the job's not done. We want to be that team at the end of it that's winning the games and punching our ticket where we want to go. We'll enjoy it, but we're back to work for TRU on Sunday."
The Sunday game (12 p.m., Clarke Stadium) might mean something in the standings for the Griffins, too. If UBC, which lost 2-1 to Trinity Western on Friday night, loses to UFV on Saturday, MacEwan would host a playoff game with a win over TRU.
UBCO (3-8-2) has their own succinct playoff scenario in their regular season finale at UNBC (2-8-3) on Sunday (12 p.m.). They are just a point ahead of TRU (3-9-1) and are two up on UNBC with all three teams chasing the same final playoff spot in the Pacific Division.
"UNBC, the coach up there's done an amazing job," said Smith. "But these are the games you want to be playing in. This is what football's for, isn't it?
"We all love football. We'll go up there and the best team will win. We'll have some fun with it and see where it goes."